The US on Thursday said it would let US oil companies
reopen negotiations with the Libyan government over
potentially lucrative oil leases that have been off-
limits since Washington imposed sanctions on the
government of Muammer Gadaffi in 1986.
The concession was among measures announced by the
White House on Thursday to reward Libya for deciding
to renounce weapons of mass destruction and compensate
the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
The US said it would lift all restrictions on
Americans travelling to Libya, allowing visits for the
first time in 23 years, and would invite Tripoli to
re-establish partial diplomatic relations by sending
permanent representatives to Washington.
"While more remains to be done, Libya's actions have
been serious, credible and consistent with Colonel
Gadaffi's public declaration that Libya seeks to play
a role in 'building a new world free from [weapons of
mass destruction] and from all forms of terrorism' ",
the White House said.
Testifying before the Senate foreign relations
committee, William Burns, secretary of state for near
eastern affairs, said on Thursday he remained
concerned about Libya's continued involvement in
African countries, particularly the regimes in
Zimbabwe and Liberia.
"US Libyan relations can only be rebuilt if we develop
confidence in the Libyan regime's commitment to
repudiate its past support for terrorism. We are still
concerned about problems in Liberia and Zimbabwe."
The White House announcement was delayed from Monday
after Shukri Ghanem, Libya's prime minister, said in a
BBC interview his country had agreed to the Lockerbie
settlement only to "buy peace".
But on Wednesday Libya said it stood by its letter to
the UN last August, which stated that it "accepts
responsibility for the actions of its officials" in
bringing down PanAm Flight 103.
Four US oil companies - Occidental Petroleum and a
coalition comprising ConocoPhillips, Marathon and
Amerada Hess - hold oil leases in Libya.